Being a middle child comes with its own perks but not always. Usually they tend to find themselves Stuck in the Middle – which happens to be the title of the newest show to come to Disney Channel. It’s a tween comedy about a girl named Harley, who is Stuck in the Middle as the middle child of a family of nine with six siblings. Since I have a middle child, I sat down for a chat and interview with Jenna Ortega who plays Harley on Stuck in the Middle to learn more about what it really feels like to be a middle child.
Interview with Jenna Ortega
You may recognize this young star on the rise from her earlier work in film and TV. Jenna has starred in Iron Man 3, The Little Rascals, and most notably on Jane the Virgin as young Jane. At just 13 years old, Jenna already has a pretty impressive resume and she’s absolutely delightful, polite, intelligent and down to earth. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a middle child, my interview with Jenna Ortega is sure to give you some insight.
What is it like to be the middle child in a family and portray the same role on TV?
There are a lot of misconceptions on being the middle child, it’s actually pretty cool. Your younger and older brothers and sisters feel that they can confide in you. If someone is going to miss an event, it’s usually the middle child – which causes the parents to feel guilty and try to make it up in other ways. Middle children get away with more stuff in general.
As a real life middle child, are you given creative freedom to provide input for the show?
Yes! There are times when Jenna reads a script and tells her bosses how her own family handles certain situations at home, which is them used for the show. Especially if it helps move the shooting of the scene along.
What is it like being in a comedy after so many roles in dramas?
It’s very refreshing. Dramas are great because they are serious, but as soon as they yell cut, you are laughing and dancing with your co-stars. In comedy, you are always laughing and making noticeable facial reactions – generally always having a good time.
What kind of real life topics is the show bringing to the audience?
They are talking about fighting over the bathroom, which really does happen. And best seat in the car. If you get stuck in the middle seat and your siblings fall asleep, they end up on top of you. Or if they are fighting – it’s happening right across you.
Harley is a bright girl, an inventor even, how important is it to show girls that they have potential to be anything?
It’s okay to be smart – which doesn’t make you a nerd. Girls need to know that it’s okay to like different things and be unique.
How can a smaller family relate to the show?
The show reaches across all family sizes because the problems they face can happen to anyone. This show is just a unique perspective on life from the middle child’s point of view.
What other projects are you working on?
A cartoon, Elena of Avalor on Disney Jr. It’s a spin-off of the Sofia The First series in which Ortega voices the role of Elena’s younger sister Isabel. Elena is said to be the first princess inspired by diverse Latin cultures and folklore. Voicing a character is very different. You are still being filmed and there are times when you reactions and movements are incorporated into the animation of the character.
When Jenna was younger she saw Dakota Fanning in Man on Fire. Dakota became Jenna’s inspiration to become an actress – and remains a strong inspiration for her. Jenna is also a huge Denzel Washington fan and says he’s an incredible actor – even when he’s a bad guy she still roots for him. She would love to work with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in the future. Balancing school and work seems to come easy to Jenna – on set they have scheduled times of schooling in between scenes. Jenna has already put together a list of colleges she hopes to attend to further her skills as an actor, and wants to be a writer or producer in the future. When she returns home from work, her siblings keep her in check with reality, quick to remind her when it’s her turn to do the dishes.